Pica is a rare kind of medical disorder in
which a person is habitual to eat nonfood items. This disorder is usually misunderstood and neglected. Usually children are victim of this disorder. They unintentionally eat harmful substance which may cause much serious kind of problems. Pica may be because of many factors. These may be internal or external. It may be because of emotional imbalance, hormonal problems or may be because of social customs and religious believes.
Signs and Symptoms
· Eating nonedible substances
· Substances may include hair, string, clay, chalk, pebbles, gum, paint, or ice.
· Eating substance needs to be developmentally inappropriate. An example of developmentally appropriate for appropriate ingestion would be a young child swallowing gum or a younger child putting objects in their mouth.
· Substance that is ingested is not part of a cultural practice
How is pica diagnosed?
The will look at your child’s physical symptoms. These could include stomach upset or bowel problems.
· If your child is in a high-risk group for pica (they have intellectual or developmental disabilities), your doctor may ask if you have seen your child eating nonfood items and for how long.
· If the behavior has occurred for a month or more, your doctor may diagnose it as pica.
· Your doctor may order tests, such as blood tests or X-rays. These can check for possible anemia, look for toxins in the blood, and find blockages in the intestines.
· Your doctor may order a blood test to check your child’s iron and zinc levels. Not having enough of these vitamins is considered a trigger for eating dirt and clay in some cases.
Options for Pica
· Treatment of pica will often depend on the cause and type of pica…Example: supplementation with iron-containing vitamins has been shown to cause the unusual cravings to subside in some iron-deficient patients
· Behavior therapy, Treatment options include: – discrimination training between edible and nonedible items, – self- protection devices that prohibit placement of objects in the mouth- sensory reinforcement involving screening (covering eyes briefly(, contingent aversive oral taste (lemon), contingent aversive smell sensation (ammonia), contingent aversive physical sensation (water mist), -brief physical restraint, and overcorrection (correct the environment, or practice appropriate or alternative responses)
Hennawy, M. A. (2016, September). Pica. Retrieved from
Staff, F. E. (2018, October). What Is Pica? – Pica Eating Disorder. Retrieved from